Sony entered the handheld market with the launch of the PSP on December 12, 2004. Over the course of its life span, the PSP went on to move 71.4 million units, which is a great number considering it’s competition. With the PSP, Sony showed that handheld games could provide a bite-sized home console-type experience (at least at the time). Games like God of War: Ghost of Sparta, Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow, and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII provided some great handheld experiences.
However, like any system, there are great games that got overlooked. Many of the games on this list are of high quality, and provide really great experiences. So, if you have a PSP lying around, or maybe even a Vita, you should seriously consider picking these games up. Without further ado, here’s my list of top 8 overlooked PSP games:
Release Date: JP- June 8, 2006; NA- November 14, 2006; EU- September 29, 2006
Estimated Sales: 40,000 Copies (US sales only)
What It Is: Following in the footsteps of Parappa The Rapper and Um Jammer Lammy, Gitaroo Man Lives! is a rhythm based game. Unlike the former two games, Gitaroo Man was developed by Koei, and it features some jamming tunes (not to say that Parappa and Um Jammer don’t). While it does feature a silly story about U-1 and how he is the last hero of Planet Gitaroo, you play Gitaroo Man for the music. While you can get the game for the PS2, the soundtrack in Gitaroo Man Lives! is a lot better when you have headphones on.
Why It Was Overlooked: Despite a catchy soundtrack, Gitaroo Man Lives! didn’t catch on with games, at least not in the US. Maybe gamers just grew out of mascot based music games, or maybe it was the lack of a licensed soundtrack.
ReleaseDate:JP- April 22, 2010; NA- November 2, 2010; EU- January 27, 2011
Developer: Nihon Falcom Corporation
Genre: Action Role-Playing
Estimated Sales: 120,000 Copies
What It Is: While it can be described as a blend of The Legend of Zelda and Secret of Mana, that would be doing Ys: The Oath in Felghana a disservice. The Oath in Felghana is a remake of Ys III: Wanderers from Ys. The sprites have be tuned up a little, the soundtrack completely remade, and re-localized, The Oath in Felghan is (in my opinion) the best of the series. Unlike the previous two, which were top-down RPGs, this one is a side-scrolling action-rpg. The fights are fast paced, the soundtrack is rockin’, and the story is great.
Why It Was Overlooked: Having a title that is difficult to pronounce (just call it The Oath in Felghana) may have put gamers off.
Release Date: JP- January 21, 2010; NA- August 31, 2010; EU- September 3, 2010
Genre: Tactical Role-Playing
Estimated Sales: 470,000 Copies
What Is It: When Sega announced that Valkyria Chronicles was getting a sequel, excitement flowed through the internet. When it was revealed that the sequel was for the PSP, gamers were pretty disappointed. However, that does not take anything away from Valkyria Chronicles II. Many of the gameplay mechanics from the first game appeared in the sequel. You still have the same great looking art style, and addictive battle system, it’s just on a smaller playing field. Focusing on themes of ethnic cleansing, and how military cadets juggle the responsibilities of being a student and soldier, the story is just as great as the original.
Why It Was Overlooked: The sales numbers in Europe and Japan were right in line with the original, however, Valkyria Chronicles II was a flop in North America. Out of the 470,000 in sales, only 90,000 came from North America. This is because the PSP never really caught on here due to rampant hacking, and because of this Valkyria Chronicles III is only available in Japan.
Release Date: JP- October 28, 2006; NA- March 29, 2011; EU- November 4, 2011
Developer: Nihon Falcolm Corporation
Estimated Sales: 130,000 Copies
What It Is: Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is a monster of a game. The story is extensive, the characters are fleshed out, there are side-stories, numerous amounts of NPCs, Trails in the Sky has to be one of the largest games for the PSP. Besides having a fantastic story, Trails in the Sky has a deep battle system. There are no random encounters, so you can strategize your plan of attack before hand. Once battle is initiated, things play out like a traditional RPG, alibi with a lot of options. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is a fantastic game for anyone that is even just a little bit into RPGs.
Why It Was Overlooked: Maybe news that the pacing for Trails in the Sky is slower than most games scared potential costumers off. However, the story told in Trails in the Sky is one of the best written, and is worth experiencing.
#4. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
Release Date: JP- November 11, 2010; NA- February 15, 2011; EU- February 25, 2011
Developer: Square Enix
Genre: Tactical Role Playing
Estimated Sales: 450,000 Copies
What It Is: Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is remake of the Super Famicom and PlayStation game of the same name. The sprites remain the same, the game is still challenging, but the script has been re-localized to make more sense and some refinements were added to the leveling system. Which is great, Tactics Ogre tells a very intriguing non-linear story. Various plot-points will be changed based on your decisions, and there are multiple endings. The tactical gameplay may be even better than Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions. With multiple classes, alignments for each unit, and stats to keep track of, plus a branching storyline, Tactics Ogre will keep you busy for a very long time.
Why It Was Overlooked:Tactics Ogre has a very deep story, and tons of characters, so maybe the density of it scared people off. Plus, the title didn’t do the game any favors. I mean, what exactly is a tactic ogre?
#3. Lunar: Silver Star Harmony
Release Date: JP- November 12, 2009; NA- March 2, 2010; EU- Unreleased
Developer: Game Arts
Estimated Sales: 200,000 Copies
What It Is: Lunar: Silver Star Harmony is a remake of the classic Lunar: The Silver Star. The sprites were re-done, the camera is isometric instead of top-down, the cutscenes were re-voiced, and the story was expanded. As you can tell, this remake was more than just up-scaling the sprites. The story in Lunar: Silver Star Harmony is a timeless classic and one of the best stories in a game. And it should be, novelist Kei Shigema wrote the story for the game. In terms of gameplay, you will face random encounters and the battles are turn-based. This is a classic game for anyone who wants to experience a great story.
Why It Was Overlooked: If this is your first time playing Lunar, then the story may seem a little too cliched at first glance. Also, not everyone liked some of the changes, especially the new voice acting. However, Lunar: The Silver Star is a requirement for anyone that considers themselves a fan of RPGs.
#2. Jeanne d’Arc
Release Date: JP- November 22, 2006; NA- August 21, 2007
Genre: Tactical Role-Playing
Estimated Sales: 310,000 Copies
What It Is: Jeanne d’Arc is an interesting take on the historical story of Joan of Arc and the Hundred Years’ War. Much of the cast is historically accurate, at least in terms of who Joan’s allies and enemies were. However, don’t think you can write a history paper on the Hundred Years’ War after playing this. For example, King Edward Vi of England is possessed by demons and uses them to lead his army to destroy the Celestial forces of France. The story is nice, but the tactical gameplay is just sweet. Add in some animated cutscenes, and you have one of the best tactical role-playing games for the PSP.
Why It Was Overlooked: Maybe it was the lack of historical accuracy that turned people off, or maybe people are still afraid when they see tactical preceding role-playing. Jeanne d’Arc is a great game, and more people should give it a chance.
#1. Corpse Party
Release Date: JP- August 12, 2010; NA- November 22, 2011; EU- December 14, 2011
Developer: Team GrisGris
Genre: Horror, Adventure
Estimated Sales: JP- 50,000 Copies; NA- Under 20,000; EU- Unknown
What It Is: Corpse Party is not just the best horror games released this generation, but it is one of the best of all time. Don’t let the 16-bit graphics and cutesy anime art style fool you, this game will haunt you. The lowdown is that a group of friends and a teacher perform a charm so that they will remain friends forever (take into account that one of the classmates is transferring). The rest of the story, you need to experience for yourself. Gameplay wise, Corpse Party is a mixture of an adventure game and a visual novel. You don’t have to worry about combat, only solving puzzles and finding clues. Add in a disturbingly catchy soundtrack, and an all-star voice cast, and Corpse Party is a winner.
Why It Was Overlooked: Horror fans are a silly bunch. They complain about the lack of real horror games, and then Corpse Party is released. Maybe it was the 16-bit graphics, or the cute anime art style. For some unknown reason, the game was ignored by everyone except for Japanese fans. They get a sequel, a spin-off, two OVAs, and two manga series. And what do we get? Hopes and dreams.
As you can see, Sony’s first handheld is home to some great RPGs and one of the best horror games ever. Luckily, you can download a majority of these games from the PSN straight to your Vita. Like always, whether you agree or disagree, or if I missed a game you felt deserved a spot on this list, please shout it out in the comments section. Until next time!
If you enjoyed this article check out the rest of the Overlooked Games Series!